David McCullough’s The Great Bridge tells the dramatic story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s largest suspension bridge at the time. It is a tale of greed, corruption and obstruction but also of optimism, heroism, and determination.
The project was first undertaken in 1870, and during its fourteen years of construction bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political enemies fell, and surges of public emotion threatened it. The story doesn’t only tell about an engineering miracle, it also describes the social climate of the time and the heroes and villains who had a hand in either constructing or exploiting the project. At the center of the story are the chief engineer, Washington Roebling, and his wife, Emily, who never gave up in the face of one heartbreaking setback after another.
The Great Bridge brings us into the Age of Optimism to experience an American achievement that rose out of its era like a cathedral, a symbol of the American spirit that all things were possible.